Comments & Curiosities: Adults can enjoy Halloween too

You have one week. Not to live — until Halloween. Sorry, didn't mean to scare you.

As you know, Halloween is the official, certified start of the holiday season. How is that possible? Wasn't the Fourth of July about six weeks ago? Wasn't Labor Day the weekend before last? I don't get it.

Anyway, here we are, coming up on Big Spooky Pumpkin-Goblin Cheesy Costume Day. You also know that Halloween is one of my all-time favorite holidays, along with Groundhog Day — two wonderfully goofy, profoundly meaningless holidays that don't even pretend to celebrate anything but fun.

I'm bummed that trick-or-treating seems to be going the way of calculators and snail mail, though, at least for little kids, which I totally understand. I think it's great that some neighborhoods organize the deal so that little kids can at least ring a few doorbells within a block or two of home.

It's sad, though. Half a century ago, when all I knew about the universe was where the Bronx started and ended, we would sprint home from school, suit up in whatever loopy outfit we came up with, hit the streets while it was still light then run around like crazies for hours, except for racing back home every so often to drop off candy, go back out, drop off more loot, go back out, etc.

Those days will never be here again, I'm afraid. But forget that.

There is still fun to be had even if you are a larger-sized, non-kid type person, although figuring out exactly how to do it can be challenge. Let's see. You could go trick-or-treating except you're going to look silly and make people nervous, which means someone might poke you in the snoot, which is not good. Halloween parties are fun but try to find someone else to throw it, which is better. You could go to a big Halloween rager at a club somewhere but, unless you were born after 1985, I'm guessing you'd rather eat a bug than do that.

Wait, try one of these:

How about a Halloween night bash at the Five Crowns? That way you get both spooky and stylish, and if you're lucky enough to have Tommy Martin at your table, you know the wine will be perfect.

True, Five Crowns is haunted year-round — you remember the Man in Black and the Woman in White — but on Halloween night they are hosting a murder mystery dinner" called "The Fiend of Five Crowns." To get in the spirit, guests are encouraged to wear something "mysterious, scary or bizarre." Actually, you see a lot of that around here so that shouldn't be hard. You'll also try to sort out the good guys from the bad girls in this world and the next, and the guests who crack the case will have a shot at a grand prize for case cracking.

The cast includes "renowned TV psychic," sort of, "Vivian Bleech" who knows paranormal when he sees it — although a guy named Vivian seems a little paranormal right off the bat — and a fortune teller named "Gypsy Fabiola," which sounds more like a stripper at a club near LAX than a gypsy to me, but what do I know? The mayhem starts at 7 p.m. Sunday and those brave enough to go will get great food, one fiend and two ghosts, at least, all for $96 a person prix-fixe. And don't be afraid — the menu includes the prime rib.

My other idea is Oktoberfest at the Balboa Bay Club. Okay, fine, it's not exactly Halloween-y, but close enough. I'm a big Oktoberfest fan, and no one does it better than Josef Lageder, the club's executive chef. If you insist on the Halloween thing, just get an aluminum funnel, wear it upside down on your head and you can go as Kaiser Wilhelm II. It should work. Just make sure you get there this week, because it will all be over by Halloween.

The schnitzel and the German salads are as good if not better than anything you will find in Munich. One bite of the Bavarian bratwurst will make you think you're at the Canstatter Volkfest in Stuttgart sitting in the SchwabenBrau tent and listening to 200 over-served people trying to sing "Ein Prosit," except you're more over-served than they are. Speaking of which, do not miss the Spaten Oktoberfest beer — brought in direct from Germany and well worth every mile. It that doesn't sound like the perfect Halloween/Oktoberfest moment, try the warm apple strudel with vanilla bean ice cream. It'll all become clear.

I think that's it — ghosts, goblins and wiener schnitzel. It's what built this country. Speaking of countries, do you know that Halloween in Romania is all about Dracula, a strange nod to Romania's Transylvania region? Isn't that interesting? You're right. Not that much. Boo. I gotta go.

PETER BUFFA is a former Costa Mesa mayor. His column runs Sundays. He may be reached at

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